By Bruce Kuklick
Here at last is an American counterpart to Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy. The eminent historian Bruce Kuklick tells the fascinating story of the growth of philosophical thinking in the USA, in the context of the intellectual and social changes of the times. Kuklick sketches the genesis of these intellectual practices in New England Calvinism and the writing of Jonathan Edwards. He discusses theology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the origins of collegiate philosophy in the early part of the nineteenth century. We see the development ofsecular preconceptions and the emergence, after Darwin's writings of the mid-late nineteenth century, of forms of thought hostile to religion. Philosophy is situated in a variety of cultural contexts - the ministry, the growing system of higher learning, the conflict between philosophers andtheologians and between amateur and professional thinkers, the suspicion of European ideas, and worries about the relevance of philosophy to public and political life. Kuklick's narrative portrays such great thinkers as Charles Peirce, William James, John Dewey, C. I. Lewis, Wilfrid Sellars, W. V. Quine, and Richard Rorty, and assesses their contributions to philosophy. He brings us right up to date with the first historical treatment of the period afterpragmatism, and the fragmentation of philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century. Kuklick steers a controversial course between the divergent views that historians and philosophers take of the significance of philosophy in recent years. Anyone interested in American intellectual history, or in how philosophy got where it is today, will enjoy this book.